Abraham Lincoln Might Have Been a Republican, But He Damn Sure Wasn’t a Conservative

lincolnAnytime racism is brought up in the realm of political debate, it’s inevitable that some conservative will use the worn out (and ignorant) line of, “Abraham Lincoln was a Republican!”  Which, of course, is true.  Lincoln was in fact a Republican.

Lincoln also instituted the first “income tax,” and told the Southern states claiming “states’ rights” when it came to slavery that they were completely full of crap.

Could you imagine a Republican today creating a tax and telling states that their claim of “states’ rights” on an issue was absurd?

Abraham Lincoln might have been a Republican, but that was before Republicans became “conservatives.”  See, there’s a difference between what Republicans were and what conservatives are.  Conservatives have always been conservatives.  Decades ago, racist conservatives aligned with the Democratic party.  Today these same conservatives call themselves Republicans.

Anyone who knows anything about history knows that long ago Democrats were the party of racists.  But those who are honest about history also know that over time, the political ideology of both parties switched.

This isn’t hard to prove – just look at reality.  What groups align with the fringe of the Republican party?  The KKK, neo-Nazis and people who seek to glorify the confederacy.  In other words, racists.  You don’t see members of the KKK, Nazi groups or confederate sympathizers siding with modern day Democrats.  Oh, no – they vote Republican.

Besides, the whole basis for being a conservative is opposing change and longing for “traditional values.”  When Lincoln pushed to free the slaves he was embracing change and thumbing his nose at “traditional values.”

In other words, he was acting like a liberal.  He embraced that which was otherwise unknown.  A United States of America where slavery was illegal.

Nothing about Lincoln made him a conservative.  He fought against “states’ rights,” he created a tax, he bucked tradition, he embraced change and he did all of this by using the power of big government.  Because you don’t get much “bigger” as far as government goes than by fighting a civil war.

So while it’s true that history will forever label Abraham Lincoln a Republican, reality overwhelmingly tells us that he damn sure wasn’t what modern day Republicans consider a conservative.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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  • Sandy Greer

    It was the Civil Rights Act: Southern racists just couldn’t stomach any more. The South was solid ‘blue’ until then; still hated Lincoln, with a passion.

    But late 40s, the Dems began to embrace the Civil Rights movement. That, and Integration, were big issues in the South, HUGE. As new black voters went Dem – GOP saw a chance to make inroads in the South.

    Then came the Civil Rights Act of 1964, followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    ^^^That settled the matter, once and for all: Southern (racist) whites had just about all they could stand; they left the Dems in droves: It was a friggin’ STAMPEDE of Dixiecrats from Left to Right. They found a new home in the GOP, where their views were both accepted, and embraced. And the South has been ‘red’ ever since.

    If Lincoln were alive today – and Republican (doubtful) – it’s for DAMN sure he couldn’t get himself elected.

    Hate espoused by the Dixiecrats is alive and well in the GOP today. The Right seems intent, once again, on tearing our country apart – this time, over our first black president. The ‘union’ Lincoln fought so hard to preserve.

    ^^^It’s an irony, to be sure.

    • Disappointed

      Yet you forget that Lincoln was trying to not be the president that
      drove the country apart, and his plan for the blacks was to ship them
      back to Africa. Slavery was not the cause of the civil war, and
      conservatives are not about digging their heels in against change. The
      fact is any conservative will speak for themselves and let you know that
      it’s about personal responsibility. Let people choose to live as they
      see fit. Go read who actually supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964
      and Voting of 1965. Look at the percentages of the political parties.
      They barely passed not because of Dem support but Republican support!
      The Republican party came out of predominately Protestant Irish/Germans
      through persecution in the NE. They wanted to run their lives as they
      saw fit, everything espoused on here has been red herrings with no justification. After the civil war, there was a mass migration of those folks
      to the south. The south didn’t switch sides because negros were
      allowed to vote, that’s just silly. look at the hate on this site,
      attacking people strictly based on white, yet you call yourself
      progressives and liberals? By legislating control of people’s lives?
      Look at the progressive legislation? It’s kept this nation in debt for
      generations. And finally, the tired and worn out overuse that any disagreement is strictly racist. When we disagreed with Clinton, or Ford, was that racism or political ideology differences? Why now is a disagreement strictly racist? Were you racist for opposing Bush or Reagan? No one is perfect, but the hate is definitely coming from the left. I’m not marching in the streets and getting in your face, only extremists do that, but if you come into my home and ask me for my opinion, don’t be surprised if I disagree with you… the difference is you came to MY home and demanded MY opinion. How about I go into your home and call you names for not agreeing with EVERYTHING I believe?!?

      • Sandy Greer

        Whoa! Settle down, Disappointed!

        >conservatives are not about digging their heels in against change

        ^^^LOL If you say so…

        >you came to MY home and demanded MY opinion

        ^^^Uhm, no. You came to MY home (put your Reply under MY OP) I didn’t ask you to do that. So much for your ‘personal responsibility’… Just SMH

        Here’s a clue: If you want to be taken seriously:

        1) Tighten it up a bit
        2) Organize your thoughts
        3) Length demands proper paragraphs

        It’s your ‘personal responsibility’ to present yourself in such a way you can be read, and understood. What glazes the eyes doesn’t even get seen. Better luck next time.

      • Rob Bailey

        A Republican saying that people want to run their lives as they see fit. And everyone else’s too. Funny shit.
        Oh, and I was alive in ’65. Things have changed just a little bit. This nation has always carried debt, and usually the GOP incurs it for the wrong reasons while blaming it on the Dems. We liberals believe – like good businessmen – that one might need a line of credit for investment in future gains. Cheney (et al) and his sidekick Dubya, believed that raping a foreign country to pad the assets of Haliburton was the way to go. Hmmm, education and infrastructure or 400 dead Americans and a 100,000 dead Arabs. Good investment.

      • Rob Bailey

        Crappy keyboard – 4000 dead Americans. Thanks Dick.

      • Woody

        This is so wrong about so many things that it’s exhausting to consider responding. So I won’t. But you really ought to read something beyond the neo-Confederate revisionist history canon.

  • John Clark

    I will correct you a bit. Lincoln was a Communist. He wrote in the same newspaper Marx wrote for, he befriended the German refugees, he called for the people to own the means of production … This was long before socialist & communist were feared by the working classes of this country. The civil war was also a war between the workers & farmers.

    • Phil Keast

      Glad to have you back Senator McCarthy, you haven’t been missed. Of course Lincoln was a Communist, since obviously anyone who publishes something in the same paper as Marx must be a Communist by association, (the most dangerous kind).

      And it is clear to any patriotic American that holding out a welcoming hand to disenfranchised and desperate refugees who’ve had their livelihoods destroyed is an act of betrayal, even treason, as it places at the American way of life at risk, and endangers America’s racial purity. [see digression, below]

      To allow “the people” to own the means of production, rather than enforcing sole-ownership by an entrenched social elite of rich white men, challenges and endangers the fundamentals of the monied aristocracy, with its plantations, slaves, servants, and other rights and privileges. Unfortunately, the existence of the stock market where sole-ownership is an anachronism of the past has eroded those rights and privileges, since now anyone, or even a group of people, be they workers or multi-billionnaires, can raise the capital to own, in part, the means of production. Fortunately, the moneyed aristocracy still has a strongly defended advantage even in that free market economic forum.

      To have such a man as a former president of the United States of America is a blot upon history, and his reputation and legacy must be tainted, reviled, and revealed as a lie lest it encourage dangerous social unrest among the peasantry.

      [For those whose reading comprehension requires a little prompting, yes that is what is known as sarcasm.]

      Digression: The American Eugenics movement argued, successfully, for the sterilization of those with mental illness, low IQ, multi-generational poverty, criminal convictions (especially if committed by aliens (there’s that word again)) or possessed of any characteristic found to be distasteful to, not surprisingly, rich white men. The American Eugenics movement pre-dates the Nazi party, having its origin in the 1880’s, with eugenics being government policy in 32 states. Members of the Eugenics movement were regular speakers at pre-World War Two German conferences, and actually influenced German policy (rather than the reverse, which is the preferred version of history). Obviously, in the minds of many, America went into the Second World War on the wrong side.These sterilizations were occurring as late as the late 1960’s, with the support of legislation and administered by “social workers”.

      • John Clark

        Radical Reconstruction after the war was a revolutionary period. NC, for instance, had more Black reps in DC than they do today. Some reparations were made to former slaves. Radicals came to help build a just society in the South. Then the KKK was formed, and the nation entered a period of regression. The world celebrates May Day today to honor the radicals murdered by the state for their fight for an 8 hour day. It took over a quarter century and many dead to just get back to the ideas of Lincoln. And a century before Blacks began to get rights which many of their ancestors fought for in the Civil War.

  • FarmGirl Goo

    No wonder Obie keeps comparing himself with Lincoln. They both D-Bags.

  • Ray Frigerio

    While I appreciate That Lincoln would not be called a “Conservative ” in the 21st century sense, the Author has clearly never studied the Civil war nor it’s underlying origins.

  • This is anachronistic.
    Lincoln in the Douglas debates rejected state rights to have slaves on the ground that “you cant have a right to do a wrong” he also rejected the idea that slavery should be treated like other property rights because you cant say right and wrong are equal. This shows he considered liberty and equality to be limited by morality. If an action was morally wrong you could discriminate against those who engage in it and you didnt have a freedom to do it. So his opposition reflected the conservative idea of ordered liberty not the radical whig one which was a moral. So his position on states rights is more conservative than “liberal”

    As to income tax, again we know that in the late 18 and early 19th century that the first proponent of Progressive income tax was William Paley, a political conservative. This would have been well known as his text book was widely read on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Moreover, in the 18th and 19th centuries opposition to slavery was often spearheaed by it was Conservatives The earliest proposed legislation to abolish slavery came from Edmund Burke, the father of modern Conservativism. In england the biggest drivers of Anti slavery bills came from the Clapham sect who were part conservative evangelical wing of Anglicanism, they also supported the suppression of vice. The first anti slavery tract in america was actually written by one of the judges in the Salem witch trials. So unless you want to claim the witch trials were carried out by liberals, you’ll have to accept that Conservatism wasnt synonymous with support for slavery.

    So pionting out that Lincoln opposed slavery, supported income tax and considered liberty and equality rights of states to not include the right to do a wrong, doesnt really show he was not a conservative but a progressive or liberal.